Just before three this morning
much of the country was
plunged into darkness after
electrical storms in Mexico
tripped Belize's power supply
from the Comission Federal de
Electricidad (C.F.E.). But, as you
might recall, after the last series
of blackouts, Belize Electricity Limited had promised
that its new gas turbine at Mile Eight would have
the lights back on twenty minutes into any power
failure. So what went wrong? According to B.E.L.'s
Vice President of Energy Supply, Derek Davis, faulty
wiring and bad weather on the ground are to
Derek Davis, V.P., Energy Supply, B.E.L.
"The first problem was related to black-starting with
turbine. As you know, this unit was designed, this was
the purposes it was designed for, but it's one of the
you cannot test so easily because it only happens when
system goes dead. So the point is, when we tried to do
didn't work. We had technical problems, the breaker
close, and so we had to use other options to get it
"Now for the ordinary person who doesn't know what
black-starting is, what is it that you tried to do?"
"Black starting basically is that you have a dead
do not have power anywhere and then, in other words,
plants use auxiliaries like electric motors and so on
have to find some small diesel unit to power them and
power up the bigger generator and get major power to the
grid; so you are starting from totally dead system."
"But you all have a power generator at mile eight.
That didn't kick over?"
"Yes, that kicked over, that worked and we got the unit
what we call up to running speed and everything. But
fell down on us was that the breaker itself, there is
wiring problem on the breaker that it did not close on
dead bus. It could not sense that the bus was dead and
"And then the second set of problems...you had some
personnel problems getting out there?"
"Yeah, we had some people getting out to the site. This
three in the morning and we had to find people to get to
site. And after that, we had to find people and get them
the Belize City plant. We then had to use the diesel
generators in Belize City to start up the system and get
power to mile eight, so we could synchronize, as opposed
starting on a black dead system."
So was last night the last of the black outs?
Wwweeellll, not really. Davis says power generated
from Mile Eight, Mollejon and the diesel generators
are keeping the lights on right now. But, if C.F.E.
doesn't get its act together by the peak hours
tonight, the electricity company will have to
consider systematically shutting down sections of
the grid until things are back to normal across the
"We can with the water flow we presently have, we can
supply our demand through the end of the day. And after
that we would have to look at load shedding options...at
"A.K.A. rotating blackouts?"
"Rotating blackouts until we can get some generation or
C.F.E. comes online, whichever comes first."
"That would be just in the city or countrywide?"
"Well we would look at the country as a whole."
We are reliably informed that as of five o'clock this
evening the full twenty-five megawatts of power
from Mexico has been flowing smoothly into the